Archive for August, 2008

Streetcar Named Perspire

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

That is the headline of Christina Blizzard’s column in the August 27 Toronto Sun where she comments on the issue of the TTC providing a short list of streetcar/LRV suppliers of Bombardier, Siemens, and Alstom. You can read her full column here, but some of her points are a little misguided.


Transit City in Paris

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

On Friday September 5, at 6:30 pm in Committee Room 2 at City Hall, the TTC and the Economic Mission of France in Toronto will host a presentation titled Building LRT in a City of Subways.

New Streetcar and LRVs from Alstom?

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

Though it is not officially on the agenda for this Wednesday’s TTC meeting, it has been reported that a decision will be announced at this meeting about the contract for replacement streetcars. The deal will likely be extended to a contract for Transit City LRVs.

After the announcement that the two submissions for the original request, by Bombardier and Tram Power, were rejected, the TTC opened up direct negotiations with any interested manufacturer. Three manufacturers came forward: Bombardier, Siemens, and Alstom. On Friday, Toronto Sun columnist Christina Blizzard suggested that the deal might go to Alstom (click here to read her column).

August 26 update:

The TTC has issued this press release:

Toronto Transit Commission staff, tomorrow, will seek approval from Commissioners to enter into a multi-phase bid process with three known and proven manufactures of low-floor light rail vehicles: Alstom Transportation Inc., Bombardier Transportation Canada Inc., and Siemens Canada Limited. The technical requirements remain unchanged.

On July 17 the TTC announced that it had cancelled the Request for Proposal process to purchase 204 new low-floor streetcars. The two bids it received at the June 30 deadline were deemed non-compliant. The TTC said it would review its options to ensure the current streetcar fleet is replaced starting in 2012 with new, accessible vehicles. The recommendation from staff is that the TTC begin discussions with all three manufactures with respect to technical and commercial requirements. A formal competitive pricing phase, including a plan for 25% Canadian content, will be the last phase of the process before a contract award is recommended to the Commission.

Prior to the close of the original RFP, the TTC retained a Fairness Monitor, Hon. Coulter Osborne, to ensure the process was followed as set out in the RFP. He concurred with staff’s decision that both bids received by the TTC were evaluated fairly and in a manner consistent with the RFP.

Under its procurement rules, the TTC may contact any vendor, including those who responded to a Request for Expressions of Interest, a process undertaken before the original RFP was issued. The TTC met recently with representatives from Alstom, Bombardier and Siemens. Each indicated they could build a streetcar that meets the technical requirements established in the original RFP.

If the recommendation is adopted, TTC staff will report regularly to the Commission on the status of discussions. The TTC believes the multi-phase bid process is the best option to ensure it obtains new streetcars that will meet the city’s needs. It also allows for questions or concerns to be discussed without the rigors of a formal RFP process.

Public Workshop for Yonge Street Subway and Highway 7 Rapidways

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

August 21 update: I only received word today that another workshop will be held next Tuesday, August 26 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Again, it will be held at the Premier Ballroom and Convention Centre at 9019 Leslie Street (one block north of Highway 7). This workshop will be only for the subway extension. The VIVA website states:

At this session, we will present our draft recommendations for station locations and crossing the East Don River with the Yonge Subway extension. You will also participate in small groups with our planners and engineers to discuss station configuration alternatives at Steeles Avenue and the Richmond Hill Centre.

NOTE: You must reserve a space by either phoning 416-989-6186 or emailing by Thursday, August 21.

August 22 update: Do the folks at YRT/VIVA really want public input?!? I received an email invitation today that was dated today, August 22, at  1:32 PM. It was inviting me to this workshop, but stated that I had to reserve a space by phone or email by August 21.

Original post and updates follow…

In June, VivaNext presented information about the Highway 7 rapidways and the Yonge Street subway extension at two Open House events. The feedback received - over 600 responses - has been invaluable in helping to shape planning for these important projects.

The public is invited to join an upcoming public workshop as they continue to work together and share information. At this session, you can participate in small groups with their planners and engineers to explore key topics.

This workshop will be held on Thursday July 31 from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the Premiere Ballroom and Convention Centre, 9019 Leslie Street in Richmond Hill just north of Highway 7.

July 31 update: Sorry I missed this in the original announcement, but it was asked that seats had to be reserved by July 24 (never mind the notices went out July 22). I suspect that there will likely be seats available, so you won’t be turned away at the door - unless you show up with about a thousand friends!

Double-ended LRVs and Crossovers

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

As we know, the replacements for the existing streetcars in Toronto will be single-ended vehicles, but the Transit City routes will use double-ended vehicles, likely to be an alteration of the other fleet.

A number of discussions have taken place about the benefits of double- over single-ended vehicles, both on this site and on other sites. For a true LRT implementation, double-ended LRVs are the way to go. Several reasons cited are:

  • Loops require property or, at best, additional streets for on-street turning.
  • Single-ended vehicles can only load and unload to their right side, while double-ended vehicles allow a mix of centre- and side-platformed stations and stops, as needed.
  • The TTC’s display materials used at various EA open houses mention the issue of wheel squeal with turning loops and cites crossovers used by double-ended operations as being quieter.
  • If work must be done on a track, with single-ended vehicles both tracks must be taken out of service between usable turning loops, often resulting in extensive portions of the line being taken out of service.

I have cited this last point as an important issue, but the flexibility does depend on track layout. Many cities that I have visited only use trailing-point switches, except for at terminals. This means that turning a vehicle back involves passing the crossover, then reversing operation and crossing over to the other track. Trailing-point switches are often preferred for safety, as the operator does not have to take care to ensure they are aligned properly before passing through.

A few cities I have visited have double crossovers that have both trailing- and facing-point switches. St. Louis, Cleveland, and Sydney Australia are three that come to mind. I was in St. Louis back when the Cross County extension was being built and one evening the LRT was operating on only one track around the location where the extension was to be connected to the existing system. No back-up moves are needed to accomplish this with both types of cross-overs.

End of single track operation at Ullem

Oslo is another city that sticks with trailing-point crossovers for the most part. On my recent trip, part of the western line was undergoing track replacement between Ullem (pictured above) and Hoff. That is about a 1 km distance with an intermediate stop in the middle. This part of the line is in its own private ROW and is built with ballasted tie construction, and this made it relatively easy to provide a single-track detour. A temporary switch was laid on the remaining track at each end of the construction zone and the other track was realigned to the switch.

Wiring over pantographs is easily moved over the single track, running parallel to the permanent wire over that track. No wire frogs or anything special like that is needed. Pantographs simply contact whatever wire, or wires, are above them.

Whether single-track operation makes use of existing crossovers, or temporarily installed track-work, this can only be accomplished when double-ended (and therefore double-sided) LRVs are used.